Aaaannnd...craving cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap was a great little Christmas collection surrounding the lives o...moreAaaannnd...craving cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap was a great little Christmas collection surrounding the lives of three girlfriends, a winter storm and, like I mentioned, cookies galore! It's sweet, sassy and even a little steamy and just what you need to get in the Christmas spirit!
Where There's Smoke by Donna Kauffman--3 stars!
Clara is a hot mess when it comes to all things baking and Lord help her she's just landed a gig as the Christmas cookie columnist for the local paper and things get off to a very hot start as she starts her cookie baking adventures. Enter firefighter Will who swoops in and saves his old college friend from a glorious cookie disaster. I'm always a fan of second chance romances and loved that these two knew each other years ago and were good friends once upon a time. It really made their instant connection and relationship believable and pretty cute. Will. Gah. He's all kinds of sexy firefighter goodness and spends a good bit of time shirtless. *girly swoon* He's just a sweet guy. Clara I had a little harder time with. She's having a rough go lately but really instead of feeling completely sympathetic she came off a bit whiny and oy I am not a fan of whiny so it was hard to connect with her. It was still a cute read though.
The Gingerbread Men by Kate Angell-- 4 stars!
Gingerbread men with candy cane erections. ::gigglesnort:: Kate Angell is freaking brilliant! The Gingerbread Men was a sweet, fun and heartwarming read that kicks off with naughty gingerbread men causing all kinds of havoc and landing one sexy hunk of a man on Abby's doorstep during a fierce winter storm. There was a very intimate feel to this one and you could really believe the emotions thrumming through Abby (the x-rated cookie maker lol) and Lander were feeling and the bond between them. They've both suffered losses recently and it was really touching how Lander helped her through her sadness and grief of her first Christmas without her Grams. Getting her to talk and decorate and remember the good times. I did think there was a touch too many mentions of her grandmother but really it was just moving seeing how much he cared and wanted to do for her. There's also an awesome kitty who really brought a sweet little element to their story. All in all a great read with a really wonderful ending that left me smiling.
Sugar and Spice by Kimberly Kincaid-- 5 stars
Once again Kincaid wowed me. Sugar and Spice was sweet and sexy, heartfelt and delicious and topped off with the excitement of a life changing competition. Basically... it was pretty damn perfect. Lily and Pete are up against each other in a huge Cookie Competition hosted by the local resort and the two are amazing. I loved watching them compete, get to know each other and butt heads a little bit because omg they are such opposites. He's a cocky go by the seat of your pants pastry chef (and holy cow pastry chefs are HOT) and Lily's a hardcore planner that follows all the rules. I was really pleased with what a deep connection was forged in so few pages and how quickly I grew to care about them both. They really grow as characters and it was just lovely watching them come together in and out of the kitchen. Kincaid truly rocks a foodie romance novella. If you haven't checked her out yet you need to. Pronto.
Alright so now that I've talked about all the good there is one thing I had trouble with that I think bares mentioning. The prologue and epilogue were difficult to get through. Too many names thrown at me. Too much back and forth activity/conversation. It was just confusing and made me feel a bit scattered and really didn't seem necessary overall. It would have worked great with just the three novellas in my opinion. So, just a heads up, if you're struggling with it hold tight. The novellas are totally worth it.
Ahhh a kinky fetish resort getaway filled with oh so sexy Doms and feisty women who accidentally ended up at the resort for the week and are surrounded by all sorts of kinkery goodness. Seriously. Where can I find a resort like this?! LOL Love it!
Fling is on the lighter side of BDSM and actually made me smile quite a bit because it was so much...simpler? than the ones I'm used to. It's not like Cherise Sinclair, Candace Blevins or Kallypso Masters. It's more, I don't really even know, contemporary romancified BDSM? Light, easy, more kinky fetish fun than lifestyle I guess.
I think this would be good for those wanting to venture into BDSM writing that isn't heavy or intense and just want a touch of kinky fun. And for those that love BDSM it's a fun little romp if you want something more beginner-ish. I had a good time with it and will be giving each of these ladies another read at some point.
Take Me by Sara Fawkes was a nice easy read that was steamy and fun. I enjoyed Alexander and Kate. He's got some sexy going on and loves control. And Kate's a bit hurt and shy after a failed engagement but adventurous and a bit of an exhibitionist which Alexander loved bringing out in her. It was a nice mix and even though things move very quickly, whew boy do they-- there's a little good natured voyeurism going on and then BAM we're having sex in an alcove, I still enjoyed the steamy scenes and how things ended up with them.
There were some kinda predictable moments, a little too much reliance on people's hair color when indicating people (the redhead instead of names or using her) and a some issues I wish had been more fleshed out or even mentioned, like protection, but all in all it was a fun read that left me curious to see how Fawkes handles a full length story.
So, yeah, in real life... Teach Me by Cathryn Fox would so be a sexual harassment suit waiting to happen but on paper, yeah, it was pretty damn hot as designer Josie tries to get Luca to sign a contract with her fashion house to sell their lingerie and does whatever it takes. I really liked the writing in this one. It was well thought out, sexy, surprising and even though it moved a little quicker at the end than I was ready for it was a nice satisfying read.
Luca and Josie were both great characters. Very dedicated and loyal and had great chemistry. Things delve a little deeper between them with glimpses into his past and her present which I really liked. Josie was fairly naive but she's bold and sassy and pretty daring. The sex scenes were a little spicier than I was expecting with some nice exhibitionism and surprise, um, partners joining in. It was...good.
Tame Me by Lauren Hawkeye was my favorite of the trio and a lot had to do with the heroine who was a celebrity and being more or less hunted down by Marco. The two had a brief encounter where sparks flew and Marco knew he needed to get to know her better but oh she so wasn't making it easy on him at all and I loved her bratty spitfire attitude. Ariel had a nice bite to her that really worked well when meshed with Marco.
There were some nice steamy scenes that were pretty intense and were nicely done. I really liked Hawkeye's voice and how fleshed out she managed to make her novella.(less)
Not bad. Not bad at all. To All A Good Night was a delicious holiday read filled with sexy men and spunky women. Lots of heat and delightful adventure. Basically it's some good not-so-clean Christmas fun ;) There's no real connecting theme other than, maybe, finding love when you least expect it?
I really loved two of the stories (Shalvis and Dimon). Both are easily 5 star stories. They're fun and sexy with great characters and storylines that felt complete and fit the characters.
I didn't love Kauffman's contribution though. It only got 3 stars. It started off strong but fizzled and fell into the rushed category. Ex- after less than 24 hours knowing each other the two are going to move in together and she's going to move states to be with him. Really? Eh, unfortunately, not for me.
But if you love holiday stories and are in the mood for a quick fun read this anthology overall is really quite excellent. (less)
Stroke of Enticement by Nalini Singh Damn! I can't believe I've waited this long to read Nalini Singh! Not even 10 pages in and I was completely captivated by her easy writing style, believable characters and humor. It's filled with sexy, charming leopard changlings, an undeniable attraction and a lot of heart. There's no real plot other than a fantastic love story and overcoming ones families but it really worked for me. Zack and Annie were wonderful together. I loved all of their interactions. How terribly Zack, damn near twinkling with humor, teased Annie. The fire he sparked in her and how she held her own with him. And just how perfectly they complimented each other. It really felt like these two had known each other for years instead of days/weeks. This one's short and sweet with a fast moving relationship but it never feels rushed or incomplete. Next chance I get I'll be grabbing up the rest of this series. That. Good.
She jumped. "You walk like a cat!"
"I am a cat, sweetheart." He wanted to tease her again, so he let a low growl rumble up from his chest. "See?"
Streaks of vibrant color stained her cheeks once more. But she didn't back down. "Are you planning to move?"
"No." He drew in a deep breath, fighting the urge to nuzzle at her throat. "You smell good. Can I taste you?" It was a half-serious question. "Just a little?"
"Mr. Quinn!" She took a step around him and headed off.
But he'd already caught the tart bite of arousal in her scent. Satisfied, he followed, on his best behavior now. It wouldn't do to scare Annie away. Not when he planned to keep her.
Christmas Bree by Erin McCarthy Now, I love Erin McCarthy but man was this one a dud for me. Bree Murphy is a witch and for the last year has been having some very steamy dreams about a mystery man. One day lawyer Ian Carrington shows up on her doorstep with an offer, from one of his clients, to buy her house. Not only is he her mystery man but he's been dreaming of her all along too! I just didn't feel the sparks between Bree and Ian. There were some steamy moments and I did like that they kinda sorta had a connection to one another already but actually feeling the sparks between them and believing the relationship unfortunately never happened.
There's was a bit of drama from Ian's overly determined client wanting to force Bree from her home but it all gets wrapped up nice and tidy in the end. What I think got me most was never really finding out WHY the client was so hell bent and determined to have her home. Loose ends drive me nuts. I really wanted to love this one since I do enjoy McCarthy's writing but in the end it just fell completely flat for me. I think I'll be sticking to McCarthy's full length novels. Those she's a freaking master at!
Sweet Dreams by Linda Winstead Jones Linda Winstead Jones was the wild card for me. I'd never even heard of her before picking up this anthology but she wasn't bad. Her writing was easy to read, flowed nicely and wrapped up in a fairly satisfying way. It was a little predictable but really not bad at all for a quick read.
The basic plot is that an ancient evil is about to escape captivity and wreck havoc and destruction starting with bakery owner Ruby Kincaid who doesn't believe in any of that woowoo stuff and has no idea what's about to happen to her life. Ruby's a sweet character whose life is a little dull. She's a hard worker and spends most of her time growing her business. Zane Benedict, her neighbor, though. Let me tell you. First thoughts on him were "socially awkward asshole!!" I'm not sure I've met a hero who gave a worse first impression but he managed to completely redeem himself and I kinda like him now. There's drama, action a bit of betrayal and a soul sucking cat that'll make you look at your feline residents a little more closely. Jones did a fantastic job using dreams/visions that'll make the little hairs on the back of your neck rise. I was pretty impressed with her.
Christmas Heat by Lora Leigh This was my second favorite of the anthology since I know the world and enjoyed getting a taste of it again. It's book 17 in the Breeds series (I'm only at #4) so a lot of things have changed. New characters/matings, political issues, medical discoveries, etc. If you just brush past that and go with it it's a great read. If you're already reading the Breeds series you might want to hold off on this one until you've read all of the earlier ones. There are a couple little spoilerish discoveries talked about in the story.
Haley is the town librarian and Noble a Breeds enforcer (Love that they're both into books/reading). The two have been dancing around each other for months and are finally given a push when Haley's life is put in jeopardy by a Breeds betrayer and a company out to eliminate her for testifying in court against them. This one's short and quick but I liked the characters together and that they have some history together. There was a lot of heat, sweetness, caring. My gut always clinches reading about the Breeds and how hard their upbringings were. Not understanding a lot of human emotions or things like celebrating Christmas or getting a simple gift. So I loved this one and Noble finding someone that was his, experiencing Christmas and getting his first gift, etc. (less)